The lady in the big hat down front wasn't just any lady. She was the First Lady. And, that was true in more ways than one, because her name was Lady Bird. The man sitting in the pew next to her happened to be President of the United States. And, Lyndon Baines Johnson was also a Disciple.
Alexander Campbell (yes, that Alexander Campbell) said that Disciples should have a prominent presence in the nation's capital. He didn't live to see President Johnson and family sitting in the church he envisioned. In fact, when Disciples preacher turned U.S. President James Garfield occupied the White House, he worshipped at what was affectionately (sort of) called "the shanty." Let's just say the Disciples meeting house in Washington, D.C., at the end of the nineteenth century wasn't exactly grand.
But, the good news is that Campbell's dream was ultimately fulfilled. In 1930 thousands of people crowded into Thomas Circle in the northwest section of the capital city to help dedicate the congregation that would give a national voice to Disciples. Individuals and congregations from all across the United States sent in dimes and nickels and dollar bills to help create this great church, the one that would form, in a sense, the national cathedral of Disciples. National City Christian Church stands today as a bold statement of Disciples' commitment to tell the whole world, even people of power and influence, the story of how an encounter with Jesus Christ is powerfully life-changing.
While the congregation is now witnessing into a second century and has a glorious story to tell of its history, it is possible that these are its most exciting days yet, with Dr. Stephen Gentle serving as Senior Minister. "He is, perhaps, the best thing to ever happen to National City," says Duane Cummins, chair of the National City Christian Church Foundation. "The vision he has for a national Disciples witness is inspiring. Dr. Gentle and his church deserve all of our prayers and support."
Interestingly, the church was formed in connection with a foundation, so that the future of our witness there would be secure. Learn more by visiting www.nationalcitycc.org. Of course, you're also welcome to worship at your national church anytime you're in the capital - and you don't even have to be a president.
By Glenn Thomas Carson
Disciples of Christ Historical Society
This article was provided by the Disciples of Christ Historical Society and used here by permission.
To learn more about your faith story, please visit the Disciples of Christ Historical Society's website at: www.discipleshistory.org
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